Contact Us

Parish Apprentices.

Following the POOR LAW ACT of 1597 the Overseers of the Poor and Church Wardens of every Parish were able to set children  with no means of support to work. The parish officers arranged for such children to be put out as apprentices and then paid the apprenticeship fee. The Parish paid for a set of clothes for the apprentice. In “The Parish Chest”  Tate gives this example of clothing supplied by Bozeat parish in Nothants in 1795

for 3 poor Children put Town Apprentices and clothed as follows:

Each boy one hat, one coat and waist, one pr of Leathern Briches, Shirt, Stockings, Shoes and new buckles for Sunday. And each boy for every days Ware, one shirt, one waist coat, one smock frock, one pr or Leathern Breeches, one pr of Stockings, and one pr of new shoes. And the Girl cloathed much after the same manner According to the fashion of girls. Apperil viz: two of each sort. And each mr rec with the boys 4£ and for the girl 5£.

The chosen masters had to take the child or pay a fine. Often in the case of a child being orphaned the apprentice master was a relation of the child. Sadly usually the apprentice was simply used as an unpaid servant who was fed, clothed and housed by the “Master”. It was not before 1793 that an act passed to provide for punishing masters of apprentices for ill usage, some cases of cruelty were taken to Quarter Sessions Courts although luckily none of ours have been found in court records.

Indentures for parish apprenticeships are covenants between the parish and the master no mention is made to the child’s parents and the child never signs. The indentures do however mention the name of the church warden(s) and two of the parish overseers. From the indentures of James HEARD we have found that Arthur NOTT [2400] on our direct line was one of the overseers in 1749.

The earliest apprentice we have found who was a possible family member, was John HEARD from Beaford who was apprenticed in 1749  On his indenture he had to promise to serve his master

in all lawful Business, according to his Power, Wit, and Ability; and honestly, orderly and obedient, in all Things demean and behave himself towards his said Master during the said Term.”

The master in his turn

“shall and Will teach and instruct or cause to be taught and instructed in the best Way and Manner he can”. He also had to “ provide and allow, unto the said Apprentice, meet, competent, and sufficient Meat, Drink and Apparel, Lodging, Washing, and all other Things necessary and fit for an Apprentice”.

This convenant between Apprentice and master was set out on a printed form and is found on all the documents we have seen but this early indenture for John HEARD had this additional clause for the master:

“And at the end of the said Term, shall and will make, provide, allow and deliver unto the said Apprentice double Apparel of all sorts, good and new (that is to say) a good new Suit for the Holy-Days and another for the Working-Days”

this last clause had been crossed through on Frances DIMOND’s Indenture and does not appear on later printed indentures found. All the forms make clear that the master must ensure that the apprentice

“be not any way a Charge to the said Parish, or Parishioners of the same; but of and from all Charge shall and will save the said Parish and Parishioners harmless and indemnified during the said Term”

Later indentures also make provision for the apprentice in the case of the master’s death before the end of the term.

The earliest apprentice master from the family was Nathaniel FAULKNER [10321]. He is mentioned as a hemp dresser from Kidlington and had been the apprentice master of John Jackson who was examined for settlement on January 25th 1763 in Wootton Oxfordshire.

 “...That when he was about fifteen years of age he was by Judicial and bound Apprentice to Nathaniel Faulkner Hemp Dresser of Kiddlington in the said County for the term of Seven years which term served according in the said parish of Kiddlington where Examinant believed his said Master as was then legally settled...”

 (Quote from ORO Woot PC IX/III/7 circa 1750 The Examination of John Jackson kept at the Oxford Record Office)

The Overseers favoured apprenticeships out of parish as these would give the apprentice settlement rights in the host parish. This may have lead to the removal order against Martin GILES [1056] of Hampton Gay in 1790.

In 1776 the age that the apprenticeship was completed was dropped from 24 to 21 as the first restriction was found

‘To disturb the peace of domestic life, check marriage, and discourage industry’.

This is reflected in our findings as seven of the eight boys we have found in apprenticeships in Beaford married within the year of completing their “Apprenticeship”. We have not found any further record of  the remaining boy John [2495] born 1804.  

An act passed in 1801-1802 required the parishes to keep an Apprentice Register but as we have found in Beaford, some already kept records. Compulsory apprenticeships were abolished in 1844

We have found 13 definite family members mentioned in the parish Apprentice records in Beaford, Devon the youngest being 7 years old.

John HEARD [?] was apprenticed to Christopher MULES for Husbandry until he was 24 years old on 13 Sep 1749

Frances DIMOND [175] born 1754 was apprenticed to Thomas HANDFORD yeoman of the same parish for Nott’s until he was 24 years of age to learn Husbandry 25 Mar 1766.

Robert DIAMOND [178] born 1763 was apprenticed to John MITCHELL until he was 24 years of age to learn Husbandry 2 May 1774.

James DYMOND [65] born 1767 was apprenticed to William ABBOTT until he was 24 years of age to learn Husbandry 18 Jan 1775.

John DYMENT [623] born 1762 was apprenticed to Anthony SNELL until he was 24 years of age to learn Husbandry 30 May 1770.

Robert DIAMOND [178] born 1763 was apprenticed to John MITCHELL until he was 24 years of age to learn Husbandry 2 May 1774.

Grace FOLLAND [2130] born 1773 was apprenticed to William WEBBER when she was 8 until she was 21 or got married to learn housewifery 9 Sep 1781.

Robert FOLLAND [10841] born 1781 was apprenticed to Robert SAUNDERS junior  for Husbandry Work 13 Oct 1790 until he was 21 years old.

Robert DYMENT [195] born 1795 was apprenticed to Thos. SNELL for North Upcott when he was aged 9 until  he was 21 years of age to learn Husbandry 6 Apr 1804.

Robert DIAMOND [186] born 1797 was apprenticed to John ARNOLD of Dolton for North Herepath in Beaford when he was aged 7 until he reached 24 years of age to learn Husbandry 8 Sep 1804.

William DAYMAN [133] born 1797 was apprenticed to Nicholas WEBBER for South Upcot when he was aged 8 until he was 21 years of age to learn Husbandry 14 Nov 1805.

John DYMENT [?] born 1801 was apprenticed to Henry HEARN for Pearsons to learn husbandry work until he was 21 from 3 July 1810.

John DYMENT [75] born 1800 was apprenticed to Thomas SNELL for North Upcott when he was aged 10 until he was 21 years of age to learn Husbandry 23 Jul 1810.

John DYMENT [2495] born 1804 was apprenticed to Nicholas WEBBER for Middle Herepath when he was aged 7 until he was 21 for Husbandry 7 June 1811.

Ann DIAMOND [187] born 1800 was apprenticed to Richard PINCOMBE for Woolly Mill when she was aged 11 until she was 21 years of age or the day of her marriage to learn Housewifery affairs 19 Aug 1812.

Esther DAYMENT [188] born  1804 was apprenticed to William SNELL when she was aged 9 until she was 21 years of age or until the day of her marriage to learn Housewifery 8 Dec 1813.

Henry DIAMOND [57] born 1804 was apprenticed to John SHEERE for part of Hoopers  when he was aged 8 until he was 21 years of age to learn Husbandry 3 Jun 1813.

The forward by the Devon Record Office to Devon Family History Society publications about various Parish Apprentice Records.
The parish Chest  by W.E. Tate  Cambridge University Press
Beaford Apprentice Indentures 2215Aa Add P02 Barnstaple Record Office

Site layout and content © 2007-2018  Eric & Hazel McMullin Except where noted.

See also